many, if not most

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  • Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    You need to give us the sentence you have seen this phrase in and the context in which it was written/said.

    Or you need to make sentences yourself and we can then tell you whether you have used it correctly or not.
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    And like many senior citizens (or probably you could say 'most senior citizens') I don't like being addressed....

    The speaker is correcting himself. He starts by saying 'many', but then he decides it is not just 'many' it is the majority of citizens, so he changes it to 'most'.
     

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    And like many senior citizens (or probably you could say 'most senior citizens') I don't like being addressed....

    The speaker is correcting himself. He starts by saying 'many', but then he decides it is not just 'many' it is the majority of citizens, so he changes it to 'most'.
    Is "many, if not most" an idiom, please?
    And what does it mean exactly?
    Would you like make some sentences to illustrate it?
    Thanks!
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Many is not an exact quantity, but most means more than half.

    Although it's probably not true to say that most (>50%) scientific papers are presented orally, a large number of them (many) certainly are.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Is "many, if not most" equal with "if not", please?
    No. "Many, if not most" means "many of the group (maybe even most of the group)". It is a way of saying 2 things (many, most). So it only makes sense when "many" refers to a portion of a total group (of people or things).

    For example, this sentence:

    We asked 100 people. Many, if not most, said they like chocolate.

    means this:

    We asked 100 people. Many of those 100 people (maybe even most of those 100 people) said they like chocolate.
     

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    No. "Many, if not most" means "many of the group (maybe even most of the group)". It is a way of saying 2 things (many, most). So it only makes sense when "many" refers to a portion of a total group (of people or things).

    For example, this sentence:

    We asked 100 people. Many, if not most, said they like chocolate.

    means this:

    We asked 100 people. Many of those 100 people (maybe even most of those 100 people) said they like chocolate.
    How about "if not", What does "it not" mean in those sentences of Collins dictionary?

    If not definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Last edited:

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    Which sentence do you wish us to consider, Emily?

    Many, if not most is a formula used by some people to mean Many, and I suspect most.

    Many
    is safer than most, because most implies a prevalence.

    If not in this context means though not.
    This sentence from Collins dictionary.

    My boyfriend is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter, which makes it difficult for me to wear heels without embarrassing him.

    What does "if not" mean in a sentence, please?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This sentence from Collins dictionary.

    My boyfriend is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter, which makes it difficult for me to wear heels without embarrassing him.

    What does "if not" mean in a sentence, please?
    If not does not mean though not there.

    He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter - he's the same height; if he isn't, he's slightly shorter: it's a way of saying He's just a little bit shorter than her. She starts to say he's as tall, to be kind to him, but then feels forced to be honest (or, maybe boastful) and admit he's a little shorter.

    It's a charming rhetorical trick, and shows she's sensitive to the possibility that he might not wish to be shorter than she is.
     
    Last edited:

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    If not does not mean though not there.

    He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter - he's the same height, if he isn't, he's slightly shorter: it's a way of saying He's just a little bit shorter than her. She starts to say he's as tall, to be kind to him, but then feels forced to be honest (or, maybe boastful) and admit he's a little shorter.

    It's a charming rhetorical trick, and shows she's sensitive to the possibility that he might not wish to be shorter than she is.
    Thanks!
    What does "if not" mean in a sentence the, please?
     

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    If not does not mean though not there.

    He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter - he's the same height, if he isn't, he's slightly shorter: it's a way of saying He's just a little bit shorter than her. She starts to say he's as tall, to be kind to him, but then feels forced to be honest (or, maybe boastful) and admit he's a little shorter.

    It's a charming rhetorical trick, and shows she's sensitive to the possibility that he might not wish to be shorter than she is.
    If not does not mean though not there.

    He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter - he's the same height, if he isn't, he's slightly shorter: it's a way of saying He's just a little bit shorter than her. She starts to say he's as tall, to be kind to him, but then feels forced to be honest (or, maybe boastful) and admit he's a little shorter.

    It's a charming rhetorical trick, and shows she's sensitive to the possibility that he might not wish to be shorter than she is.
    I am still confused with "if not" in followed sentence.
    Is "if not" mean "even not"?

    "He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter"
     

    Chez

    Senior Member
    English English
    'even not' does not make sense, it is not a phrase we use in English.

    As others have said, it is as though the speaker changes her mind (whether to be truthful, or accurate or some other reason, we don't know.

    It's as if she's saying:
    He is the same height as me (but wait a minute, that's not quite true); if he's not the same height as me (now I think about it, maybe he's not really quite the same height), then I have to admit he's a little bit shorter.

    Another example:
    My sister is as clever, if not cleverer, than me.
    (I think my sister is equally clever as me; but some people might say she's even cleverer – and I admit that).
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I am still confused with "if not" in followed sentence.
    Is "if not" mean "even not"?

    "He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter"
    He is the same height as me, if I am wrong and he is not the same height as me, then he is slightly shorter. I am not sure that we are exactly the same height - he may be shorter but he is not taller.
     

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    'even not' does not make sense, it is not a phrase we use in English.

    As others have said, it is as though the speaker changes her mind (whether to be truthful, or accurate or some other reason, we don't know.

    It's as if she's saying:
    He is the same height as me (but wait a minute, that's not quite true); if he's not the same height as me (now I think about it, maybe he's not really quite the same height), then I have to admit he's a little bit shorter.

    Another example:
    My sister is as clever, if not cleverer, than me.
    (I think my sister is equally clever as me; but some people might say she's even cleverer – and I admit that).
    Do you mean that "if not" mean "perhaps"?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It can mean either "even perhaps" or "though maybe not".

    He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter. (Perhaps he's even a little shorter than me)
    She's very tall, if not as tall as me. (Though probably/maybe she isn't as tall as me)
     

    Emily Cheung

    Member
    Chinese
    It can mean either "even perhaps" or "though maybe not".

    He is the same height as me, if not slightly shorter. (Perhaps he's even a little shorter than me)
    She's very tall, if not as tall as me. (Though probably/maybe she isn't as tall as me)
    Got it.
    Thanks!
     
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